Mr Rodgers Neighborhood

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ’It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” Fred Rogers

When we have under-performing schools anywhere in our country, do we see it as a systemic problem? Do we think it is our shared responsibility to support the educational and developmental needs of all children where and when they need us to do so?

The education reform war reached a new crescendo over “accountability.” We have come to talk and think in terms of “accountability” but the word is interchangeable with “responsibility.”

I have come to believe that we need an accountability system that respects the local responsibility, has true state accountability for equitable resources, and recognizes a federal duty to monitor progress for the purpose of providing guidance and support.

So if we want to continue to look at the issue of “improvement” in terms of “reform,” school reform is a local responsibility. States are charged with an accounting of inputs and outcomes to provide meaningful oversight. And the federal government should oversee the broader topic of “education reform” as it applies to the necessities of maintaining a strong republic based on equal opportunity and American excellence.

Everyone should know by now that top-down education mandates for accountability tied to higher “achievement” scores has only furthered our resistance to change, made a bad situation worse for many, and escalated the education wars. The scholars are fighting over issues the people can’t understand, while citizens are growing frustrated and walking away. This fighting must end.

Children need us to form partnerships. Partnerships aren’t a way to shift responsibility; they are a way to share it.

If we see educating children as a societal obligation, if the focus is children, our responsibility is to be responsive to them.

What now? Lives lost but not the innocence of our next generation.

What now?

They need us to negotiate a truce.



Spring Cleaning: Letter Discovered

You never know what gem you might find when spring cleaning. Here’s one to consider when looking at how we might truly improve public education.

My Message to Parents and Other Concerned Citizens About Cleaning Up the Mess Created by Outcome-Based Theory:

This current standards and testing movement that began 30 years ago is a bipartisan effort to make the “outcome-based” model for education “work.” The education industry has done quite well while our children have not.

The goal set by law, in No Child Left Behind, is unrealistic, unattainable, and frankly undesirable. Our American character embodies the ideals of freedom of thought, equality of opportunity, pragmatic resourcefulness, and individuality. This law standardizes the education “outcome.” Who defined this outcome for our children?

We should define the role of the federal government.

We must define the role of the state.

Locally, it’s time to take back our schools.

At all levels, it is our right to know the facts, to hear the truth, to be informed. It’s time to use politics to take politics out of the education equation. As a nation, we must press our candidates and those already in office to answer to us. Accountability starts with them, not our children’s test scores.

No Child Left Behind is the national education issue worthy of our undivided attention.

With Heartfelt Sincerity,
Victoria M. Young